Why the ‘one relationship’ Princess Margaret really ‘did want to work’ was destined to be ‘difficult’

There was 'one relationship' Princess Margaret really 'did want to work' but apparently certain factors made this incredibly challenging

The "one relationship" Princess Margaret really "did want to work" explained. Seen here is Princess Margaret at the Epsom Derby
(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

The “one relationship” Princess Margaret really “did want to work” was destined to be “difficult”, according to an enlightening documentary.  

Throughout her life Princess Margaret’s romances captivated the world’s imaginations, from her almost-marriage to Group Captain Peter Townsend to Princess Margaret’s affair with a gardener 17 years younger than her. She only married once - to photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, later Lord Snowdon. And whilst this has been described as the “one relationship” Princess Margaret really “did want to work” by her authorized biographer, it seems that certain factors meant it was always destined to be “difficult” between them. 

Princess Margaret’s Lady-in-Waiting Lady Anne Glenconner got candid in Part 2 of the 2018 BBC documentary, Princess Margaret: The Rebel Royal. She claimed that whilst Antony “loved” being a royal at first, the charismatic photographer soon tired of the responsibilities that came with it.

Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon, May 1960 wedding rehearsal

(Image credit: Photo by Freddie Reed/Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

“Tony loved all the royal thing at the beginning,” Lady Glenconner said. “And then he got bored. Then off he went. And, I mean, he was a brilliant photographer, and he wanted to go around the world photographing interesting people, you know.”

Her reflections on the challenging situation between the royal husband and wife were echoed by Princess Margaret’s friend Lady Jane Rayne. 

“He stopped going with her on any of the public things,” she claimed. “And after a bit she realized that, you know, he wasn’t going to, so she did all her public things on her own. It was naughty in a way because he married Princess Margaret and he therefore, knowing who he was marrying, he should’ve helped her. But he didn’t.”

Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1969

(Image credit: Photo by Keystone-France\Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

This couldn’t have been a bigger contrast to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s dynamic. Lady Jane compared Lord Snowdon to Prince Philip’s unwavering dedication to being with the Queen “whenever” he was needed, saying that “Tony wasn’t good at that.”

“He spent more and more time away. And she was quite possessive, Princess Margaret. She liked to be in touch with him and wondering what he was doing the whole time and that annoyed him, you know,” Lady Gleconner added, before Lord Snowdon’s biographer Anne De Courcy explained why it was “so difficult”. 

“It was very difficult. Both of them were people who had managed never to have no said to them. They were both very center stage and very determined,” she declared.

Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon attend Badminton Horse Trials

(Image credit: Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage via Getty)

It was then that her authorized biographer Christopher Warwick remarked, “And one thing we kind of have to remember is that the one relationship she really did want to work was her marriage and she didn’t want to be a divorcee.”

Whilst her marriage might have been the “one relationship” Princess Margaret “really did want to work”, sadly his reluctance to embrace the responsibilities and sacrifices that are part of royal life perhaps suggests that it was always destined to be challenging. The couple divorced in 1978 and Princess Margaret’s hilariously ruthless response to being told by her private secretary Lord Nigel Napier that Antony wanted this might come as a surprise to some. 

“Thank you, Nigel. I think that’s the best news you’ve ever given me,” she supposedly replied.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!